Background: Assessment of left ventricular (LV) function with echocardiography is mandatory in patients with suspected heart failure (HF).
Objectives: To investigate if GPs were able to evaluate the LV function in patients at risk of developing or with established HF by using pocket-sized ultrasound (pUS).
Methods: Feasibility study in general practice, seven GPs in three different Norwegian primary care centres participated. Ninety-two patients with reduced or at risk of developing reduced LV function were examined by their own GP using pUS. The scan (<5 minute) was done as part of a routine appointment. A cardiologist examined the patients <30 minutes afterwards with both a laptop scanner and pUS. Measurements of the septal mitral annular excursion (sMAE) were compared.
Results: In 87% of the patients, the GPs were able to obtain a standard view and measure the sMAE. There was a non-significant mean difference in sMAE between GP pUS and cardiologist laptop scanner of -0.15 mm 95% confidence interval (-0.60 to 0.30) mm. A comparison of the pUS recordings and measurements of sMAE made by GP versus cardiologist revealed a non-significant mean difference with acceptable 95% limits of agreement (-0.26 ± 3.02 mm).
Conclusions: With tailored training, GPs were able to assess LV function with sMAE and pUS. pUS, as a supplement to the physical examination, may become an important tool in general practice.